Have you ever experienced the repercussions of halfhearted obedience? I mean, you are in the moment, you know what you should do, but you also really want something else. So, we start to rationalize – maybe if we just sort of obey, we can have both. Spoiler alert – it never works.
Israel was no stranger to halfhearted obedience. In Joshua there are several situations that open the door for future temptations, battles and compromise.
In Joshua 11 we see continued victory over a massive coalition of Canaanite kings that Jabin, the king of Hazor assembled to defeat Israel. The story in chapter 11 moves pretty quick. Joshua 11:8 summaries it well:
“And the LORD gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. And they struck them until he left none remaining” (11:8).
Sounds good, right?
But, near the end of the chapter we see some emerging problems. Verse 19 reminds us of the Gibeonite deception by which the Gibeonites had secured peace with Israel (against covenant requirements). How did that happen? Israel’s halfhearted obedience. It is doubtful that the Gibeonites operated out of faith, as Rahab had. They’re motivation seems to be entirely that of self-preservation without acknowledging the supremacy of Israel’s God, as Rahab’s faith led her to do. So, their presence presents a theological threat to the monotheism of Israel, and the possibility of a future military uprising.
Remember, the reason God forbade His people from allowing the Canaanites to live and become incorporated into Israel was based on two principle concerns. First, theologically, the Canaanites might lead the Israelites into idolatry (see Deut. 7), and second, the Canaanites might rebel and attack at a later time.
Halfhearted obedience opens the door for our idolatry for us as well, and it opens the door for future attacks from our enemy.
Moving on to Verse 22 we read a vague mention that “There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain.”
What?! There are giant Anakim still in the land?!
Why are they still around?
How’s that going to work out that they dwell within Israel’s land?
Goliath was from Gath, but he never would have been if Israel had fully obeyed and eliminated the military and theological threats in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod like they should have. But because of Israel’s lack of faith and halfhearted obedience, those three cites later emerge to be 3 of the 5 leading cities of the Philistines which subdue Israel. Ironic isn’t it?
Sin always turns our lives upside down.
Halfhearted obedience today opens the door for an onslaught of pressures and temptations tomorrow.
Walk wisely today my friends,